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Chandler academy’s PE class emphasizes F.I.T.T.: frequency, intensity, time, type

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CHANDLER – This physical education class at Chandler Traditional Academy-Goodman Elementary has fifth-graders playing clothespin tag, dashing about to collect as many clothespins off classmates’ shirts as they can.

PE teacher Grace Alvarado blows her whistle to pause the game and teach a quick lesson.

“Put your hand on the side of your throat. Check your heart rate,” she said. “In the F.I.T.T. Principle: frequency, intensity, time and type – which one are we working?”

“Intensity!” the class yells.

In Alvarado’s PE class, she teaches her students about the American College of Sports Medicine’s F.I.T.T Principle and why the exercises they are doing are important to their fitness.

“I want them to be active but I also want them to understand why they are going to be active and what to do to improve different areas of their body,” she said.

Outside of class, Alvarado encourages students to get active by offering them the chance to play the games they are learning in class during recess.

CTA-Goodman Elementary, part of the Chandler Unified School District, offers Sports Club and Running Club after school. Fourth- through sixth-graders can join Sports Club and play four sports over the course of the school year, and all students in first through sixth grades are invited to run for 50 minutes when Running Club meets twice each week.

“We stretch real quick, run around just to warm up, and then we do a course,” she said. “Today since it’s our first day, we’ll only do 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, I’ll blow the whistle and they continue finishing their laps.”

In the cafeteria, students’ names are written on paper alligators – the school’s mascot – and placed along a distance chart to show how far each student has run in Running Club. Participants log their miles and can accumulate enough miles to earn prizes, and students get special recognition once they reach the 100-mile club.

As a Chandler Traditional Academy, students are enrolled in advanced math and English Language Arts classes and only go to a 30-minute PE class every third day.

“We’re a CTA, so a lot of class is sitting there listening,” Alvarado said. “There’s not a lot of group activity and experimental learning, so when they come out to me they’re really ready to be active,” she said.

Alvarado encourages her students to try the different activities and sports in her class, even if the kids don’t like them. She tells them they might like it after they try something and find out they are good at it.

When her students move on to junior high, teachers have told her that her students are the most enthusiastic about being active and healthy.

“I try to teach them confidence. If you mess up, who cares? Try it again,” she said. “It’s PE, it should be fun! They shouldn’t be worried about ‘Oh, I can’t do it, so I’m not going to try.’”